Discover’s New Social Security Alert Feature: What Does It Do?

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[Disclosure:  Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Earlier this summer, Discover rolled out a free service to help protect its cardholders from identity theft. This service alerts cardholders when their Social Security numbers have been compromised and left vulnerable to criminals.

This feature is a natural fit for a credit card industry that increasingly prioritizes security. But if you’re a Discover customer (or you’re interested in becoming one), you may be curious why that security is so important and what the new feature actually does.

The Dark Web Threat

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, over 15 million Americans were victims of identity fraud in 2016, with losses amounting to $16 billion. Consumers are particularly vulnerable to identity theft after a data breach leaves their personal information—like Social Security numbers and credit card information—exposed.

After a data breach, stolen information may be listed for sale on illegal websites on the dark web, an area of the internet that can’t be indexed or located by search engines like Google. Some dark web marketplaces exist solely to traffic in illegal goods and information, including stolen consumer data. If personal information is compromised in a breach, a stolen Social Security number is up for grabs.

Thieves can then use acquired Social Security numbers and other private information to create accounts and take out loans, which can wreak havoc on a victim’s credit.

Discover’s Social Security Alerts

Discover Social Security alerts can help fight against identity theft by monitoring the dark web for your Social Security number.

“Once a cardmember signs up for our new free alerts, Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites that are known to illegally sell or trade information and will notify cardmembers if their Social Security number is found,” says Laks Vasudevan, Discover’s VP of global products and solutions. “In [addition], we’ll monitor cardmembers’ Experian credit reports and notify them if any new credit accounts—such as credit cards, mortgages, or car loans—are opened in their name.”

If Discover finds a customer’s information on one of these sites, the customer will be notified via email or text alert.

Beyond the Alert

Being aware of a security risk is an important first step in the battle against identity theft. But addressing identify theft will require further action.

If a cardmember receives a Social Security alert, Vasudevan said they should call Discover so agents can help them identify the right course of action. Agents may advise cardmembers to put a freeze on their credit report or put them in contact with an Experian fraud expert.

Prioritizing Security

“Helping Discover cardmembers protect their personal information is one of our highest priorities,” says Vasudevan. “We know that identity theft and fraud is a concern for people everywhere, including our cardmembers, which is why we expanded our monitoring features beyond our cardmembers’ Discover accounts.”

Whether you’re a Discover cardholder or not, you should always take precautions to safeguard your personal information and fight identity theft. You can start by checking your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: wutwhanfoto

At publishing time, some Discover cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post Discover’s New Social Security Alert Feature: What Does It Do? appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Secured Credit Cards That Reward Responsible Use

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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

Secured credit cards are great for those who want to improve their bad or nonexistent credit. Because they require a security deposit to open—which may also act as your credit limit while you build up better credit—they’re easier to qualify for than traditional credit cards. Once a secured card is in your pocket, you can use it to make purchases and build credit just like an unsecured card.

Making timely payments on a secured card can help you build a great credit score. But some cards go the extra mile with policies that reward responsible card use and timely payments.

Here are our top three secured credit cards with incentives for responsible use.

1. Capital One Secured Mastercard

Rewards: None

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $0

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): Variable 24.99% APR on purchases.

Why We Picked It: A short initial period of timely payments can get you access to a credit limit increase with no additional deposit required.

Responsibility Reward: Depending on your credit, Capital One’s secured card will require a $49, $99, or $200 security deposit for an initial credit line of $200. After five months of on-time payments, Capital One may increase your credit limit with no additional deposit required.

Drawbacks: The APR is pretty high, even for a secured card.

2. Discover it Secured Card

Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in quarterly gas and restaurant purchases; 1% cash back on other purchases.

Sign-Up Bonus: First-year cash back matching.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: Variable 23.99% APR on purchases; 10.99% APR for six months on balance transfers, then variable 23.99% APR.

Why We Picked It: This card offers a way to earn back your initial deposit.

Responsibility Reward: Your initial security deposit is equal to your credit limit—for instance, a $500 security deposit will get you a $500 credit limit. After eight months, Discover will begin a monthly account review and may refund your security deposit if you meet its qualifications.

Drawbacks: If you don’t spend much on gas or dining, you won’t earn as much cash back.

3. BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

Rewards: None

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $39

APR: Variable 21.24% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Why We Picked It: A year of responsible use could help you recover your security deposit.

Responsibility Reward: This card requires a security deposit of at least $300, and your initial credit line is equal to the deposit amount. After a year, Bank of America will review your account and overall credit history and may refund your security deposit.

Drawbacks: There’s a $39 annual fee.

How to Choose a Secured Credit Card

With any secured credit card, your primary focus should be building credit. Pick a card that helps you make timely payments and maintain a low balance. If you can, you should avoid cards with high annual fees or lofty interest rates (although high APRs do tend to come with the territory).

Determine the security deposit you can reasonably afford and look for a card that will accept that amount. While most secured cards will extend an initial credit line equal to your deposit, some may extend a higher limit right out of the gate.

While you should do your due diligence, don’t be discouraged if a credit card issuer doesn’t explicitly state that it will refund your deposit or increase your credit line over time. Many credit card issuers are willing to negotiate these terms with responsible customers over the phone. Over time, you may even be able to get an unsecured card with better rewards and lower interest rates. 

What Credit Is Required for a Secured Credit Card?

Consumers with poor or nonexistent credit can qualify for secured credit cards, but approval isn’t a sure thing. To increase your odds of success, you should check your credit score before you apply. You can check your credit report free at Credit.com. 

Image: istock

At publishing time, the Capital One Secured Mastercard and Discover it Secured Credit Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 3 Secured Credit Cards That Reward Responsible Use appeared first on Credit.com.

3 Credit Cards for Forgetful Consumers

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[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

When you have many financial obligations to manage, it can be easy to slip up and make a late credit card payment. If you’re naturally forgetful, the likelihood of missing your payment due date only increases.

Unfortunately, late payments can lead to fees, penalty interest rates, and damaged credit. But some credit cards are more forgiving of late payments and can even help you remember to pay.

Here are three credit cards for the absentminded.

1. Citi Simplicity

Rewards: None

Sign-Up Bonus: None

Annual Fee: $0

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 14.49% to 24.49%.

Why We Picked It: This simple card will never charge you for a late payment.

For the Absentminded: This card won’t charge late fees or hit you with a penalty APR for a late payment. With automatic account alerts, Citi will keep you up to date on your balance and upcoming payments and alert you if you go over your credit limit. You can even choose what time of month you’d like your bill to come due.

Drawbacks: There are no rewards.

2. Discover it Chrome 

Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined gas and restaurant purchases each quarter; 1% cash back on everything else.

Sign-Up Bonus: First-year match of all cash back.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 0% for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, then variable 11.99% to 23.99%.

Why We Picked It: Discover forgives your first late payment and can help with a misplaced card.

For the Absentminded: Discover will waive the late payment fee the first time you’re late (after that, it will charge you up to $37). There is no penalty APR for late payments. If you misplace your card, you can immediately freeze your account online or via a mobile app while you look for the card.

Drawbacks: If you spend more than $1,000 a quarter on gas and dining, you might want a card with a higher cash-back ceiling.

3. PenFed Promise Visa

Rewards: None

Sign-Up Bonus: $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.

Annual Fee: $0

APR: Variable 9.49% to 17.99% on purchases; 4.99% for 12 months on balance transfers, then variable 9.49% to 17.99%.

Why We Picked It: When it comes to low or nonexistent fees, it’s hard to beat this card.

For the Absentminded: This card will never charge a late payment fee or impose a penalty APR. On top of that, there’s no over limit fee, returned payment fee, foreign transaction fee, balance transfer fee, or annual fee. That’s impressive.

Drawbacks: You must be a PenFed member to access this card. However, a one-time donation can qualify if you aren’t in the military or another qualifying group.

Picking a Card for Your Absentmindedness

If you have trouble making payments on time, you should determine if the root cause is absentmindedness or financial trouble. If it’s the latter, you may want to wait until you can better manage your finances before getting a new credit card.

You should choose a card that you can successfully manage and pay on time. Even if the card won’t punish you for a late payment, late payments can end up damaging your credit if left unaddressed.

Make sure to evaluate the fees, APR, and other costs associated with the cards you’re evaluating. Some cards impose steep penalties for late payments from the start (although it never hurts to call and ask the credit card issuer to waive your fee).

Remember, the best way to use a credit card is to pay off your balance in full each month. That way, you can avoid interest and an unmanageable balance while protecting your credit.

What Credit Is Required for a Card with Late Payment Forgiveness?

Cards that are forgiving of late payments vary in credit requirements. You should make sure your credit is sufficient before you apply, because a credit card application can slightly ding your credit score. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.

Image: Petar Chernaev

At publishing time, the Citi Simplicity, Discover it Chrome, and PenFed Promise Visa cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

The post 3 Credit Cards for Forgetful Consumers appeared first on Credit.com.